When 2021 arrived, everyone around the world breathed a collective sigh of relief; the year 2020 was finally in the past. However, many people debated whether they should make healthy New Year’s resolutions. After all, the ongoing pandemic limits access to some fitness and nutrition opportunities (e.g., gyms, in-person nutrition counseling, etc.).
Given these constraints, can you actually reach your health goals?
Certainly. Start by recognizing that you don’t have to make up for time lost during COVID-19. If your momentum decreased and you stopped exercising or meal planning, that’s OK. You’re not in a deficit, and you’re not alone. A lot of people struggled with weight gain while quarantining.
Making progress on your health and fitness goals is an ongoing effort rather than a one-and-done deal, so try starting today. Can you choose to eat healthier at your next meal? Is there time for a brisk walk during what used to be your commute? You make choices all the time, and each one is a step toward achieving your New Year’s resolution to get healthier.
Realistic Ways to Stick to Your Goals
As you work on your long-term health goals and healthy New Year’s resolutions, keep the following tips in mind. They’ll help you stay on track and remind you to stop pressuring yourself to get immediate results.
1. Start with small changes.
How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. This old adage holds true: You’re more likely to be successful if you break your resolution down into short-term health goals. Suppose you want to overhaul your eating habits. What small change could you commit to making? Maybe you can switch your snacks from potato chips to kale chips or your desserts from gummy bears to honey-roasted almonds.
The key is starting small. Drinking one glass of water per day is easier than cutting out coffee and soda completely. The same advice applies to exercising: If you work out for 15 minutes twice a day, you’ll still get the benefits of 30 minutes of physical fitness. Start by taking inventory of your habits. Once you know where you’re starting from, you can take small steps to either continue positive patterns or break bad habits.
2. Learn from others.
Can you think of people in your life who are strong role models for your goals? They might be friends or family members with strong workout routines or healthy meal ideas. Ask them for advice on your long-term health goals and healthy New Year’s resolutions. They can help you with guidance, motivation, and accountability. Online resources, such as the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics website, are also full of helpful information.
You can also figure out whether your employer offers any helpful resources. About two-thirds of Americans are partially or fully working from home. Consequently, many human resources departments have upped their personnel perks, including partnering with registered dietitians, offering telehealth visits, and presenting work-life balance webinars. Take advantage of any benefits that align with your health goals.
3. Evaluate what’s working.
As you make changes, consider each one an experiment. Try to stick to your habits for two or three weeks before analyzing your progress. Is something not working with your schedule? If so, you may need to seek out alternatives. Let’s say you’ve been too tired to cook a healthy meal each night; instead of cooking everything daily, you could do meal prep on the weekends when you’re free.
Taking a step back instead of assuming you’re a failure will help you learn from your past attempts. It’s a much gentler, healthier way to think about progress. Plus, it can spark creativity as you solve problems throughout the year.
You don’t need to wait until 2022 to make a New Year’s resolution to get healthier. Get started as soon as you’re ready to start working toward your long-term health goals. If you need additional support, schedule an appointment today. Our registered dietitians are ready to provide nutrition counseling advice.